Hockey: Final wash-out takes shine off England triumph

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The Independent Online

There was huge disappointment for England in South Korea yesterday after their final against the host nation in the Korean Telecom Cup in Busan was washed out. But even without playing, England were confirmed as champions thanks to their unbeaten run in the round robin. They finished three points ahead of South Korea.

The England coach, Tricia Heberle, said: "We had prepared very well for today's encounter and were looking forward to the experience and pressure that this opposition presented us. It is nice to have finished on top at the end of the pool games, but to win the gold on our merits by a strong performance in a must-win final is what we would have preferred.

"We have been at times quite inconsistent... but take heart from the fact that at times we have played some outstanding hockey and that we were undefeated in the pool matches."

England, ranked fifth in the world, had drawn with sixth-ranked Korea and beaten the other four nations, including Netherlands and Australia, both ranked above them.

England's results here mark significant progress from when Heberle took over just over two years ago, when they were ranked ninth in the world.

In addition to finishing fifth in the World Cup in Perth in December, England have won gold in the World Cup qualifier and in the Champions' Challenge.

The target now is the European Cup in Barcelona in September. "There remains much work to be done on an individual skill level and as a team and we will certainly be working very hard across the next seven weeks to ensure maximum improvement and performance at the European Nations Cup," Heberle said.